Covid Scotland: Jason Leitch says reports of plans to phase out free lateral flow tests are untrue and 'a red herring'

Jason Leitch has insisted that lateral flow tests will remain free, following reports that the UK Government were planning to axe free lateral flow tests for the general public.

Speaking on BBC Good Morning Scotland, Prof Leitch said: “We procure them four-country wide, we distribute four-country wide.

“We have no intelligence at all that story is true so we’re carrying on anticipating lateral flow tests will be freely available.”

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Pressed about whether the Scottish Government is making contingency plans in case the UK Government decides to end their free supply, he said: “We think it’s a red herring.

“We believe the UK Government when they say it’s not true.”

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On Sunday, Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said he was “puzzled” by the reports, and insisted that free lateral flow tests would not be scaled back.

He indicated support for reducing the isolation period from seven days to five, if it can be done safely, in order to reduce staffing pressures on the NHS and businesses.

Professor Jason Leitch said the Scottish Government believe lateral flow tests will continue to be made freely available to the population.

However, Prof Leitch said it is “far too early to make that decision”.

He continued: “We’ve only just gone from 10 to seven. We went from 14 to 10 some time ago, now we’ve gone from 10 to seven with quite a lot of extra steps – a couple of tests, vaccination and all those other things to get released if you possibly can – but there’s no suggestion yet that we should move to five.

“They’ve done it in some limited parts of the world but the data suggests that’s a risk, particularly at high levels of infection.

“So we’re not intending to do that.”

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